Our everyday learning in the classroom reminds me of a big cake. The necessary ingredients are science, math, reading, writing, language, geography and the arts. A cake is mixed by hand, just as our learning is hands-on.
And, the frosting? That’s our unit of study. It’s the fun, the glorious way to encase and show off our cake. Italy is a beautiful frosting. So was the Rainforest, and Hawaii, and India, and Jan Brett. Regardless of the frosting, or our unit of study, there is always a cake and the important learning that happens.
I thought you might like to taste some of the recent ‘cake batter’:
Reading and letter recognition, a daily constant, had an “ah-hah moment” when we read the book Froggy goes to Hawaii. The word ‘Froggy’ is in big letters on many of the pages, followed by an exclamation mark which we had just learned about. That sparked a huge interest in recognizing letters and actually sounding out words. Since then, every time we read a book that has some of the words in large print, such as Toot, Toot, Zoom or My Truck is Stuck (Literacy Tree books); we are obsessed with both recognizing the letters and sounding out the words. We then find rhyming words and sound them out.
Writing has become a popular activity. We use ‘Handwriting Without Tears’ with emphasis on the terminology of ‘lines’ and ‘curves’ and using those shapes to create letters. September introduced Mat Man, and last week our Italy writing activity had children so ready, it looked like the line at the deli counter. Children practice writing their name on paper with three lines, therefore three practices. We used a vertical surface to make the map of Italy and a pizza parlor tablecloth, and our paintings for the Art Show are done at an easel. All of these activities on a vertical surface are developing the muscles needed for writing.
Geography is highlighted so many times with studying different countries. The best part is, every time we pull out our Big Book Atlas, we become sidetracked and learn even more. We have learned about the equator, the poles, and the oceans. Children are always drawn to the map of the United States, and the learning keeps flowing. We have used the atlas to track the travels of Dr. Dolittle, and we’ll be tracking the travels of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Math and Science has been exciting with the hatching of twenty baby chicks in the kindergarten. The circle of life is in full glory. Our favorite science fair activity was using a hair blow dryer to blow ping pong balls into the air and keep them steady.
Of course you know that Art and Music has been a major contributor to our ‘cake batter’ as the children made significant pieces of art, inspired by music, for our annual art show. I bumped into a former student (now going into kindergarten) who told me she was in Washington DC last week and visited the National Gallery of Art. I was there, too! We marveled at the coincidence. Then she said, “I saw the Mary Cassatt”. I did, too! She said, “Jennie, I saw the flower painting we learned about.” Wow!
My classroom makes the best cakes and frostings!